Monster Hunt

Posted by Eddie Pasa on January 22, 2016 in / 2 Comments


While watching Monster Hunt, I got the feeling I’d seen it all before… in a film called Willow. A baby heir to a throne is given to someone outside its race, leading to all sorts of bungling cuteness between it, its caretaker, and a stray mercenary. Two interlopers trying to protect the baby provide the film’s comic relief, and the hero discovers his true calling during his adventures.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Michael Parsons, Movie Critics, Film CriticsThere’s not much to lift Monster Hunt above its shallow script by Alan Yuen. Monster Hunt gives off a certain feeling of detachment, as if it’s not willing to relax and let the film be itself. At every turn, there’s some kind of goofy joke that dispels any sense of seriousness, and it’s largely not funny. The film constantly relies upon the humiliation of the shortcomings of others, especially the film’s lead character Song Tianyin (Jing Boran).

Tianyin is introduced to us as the young mayor of a small rural village whose inhabitants take pleasure in yelling at him and putting him down. Even his own grandmother (Elaine Jin), suffering from some kind of dementia – don’t worry, it’ll all make some sense later down the road, the way it always does – doesn’t think much of him, comparing him unfavorably to his father, a revered Monster Hunter.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Michael Parsons, Movie Critics, Film CriticsThrough no fault of his own, Tianyin becomes impregnated – yep, you read that right – with the egg carrying the heir to the throne of the monster realm. Along the way, fledgling Monster Hunter Hua Xiaolan (Bai Baihe) attempts to collect the bounty on the baby monster, but slowly becomes not only its protector, but Tianyin’s as well. She’s Willow‘s Madmartigan, right down to the deep sarcastic streak.

The Monster Hunters exist to enforce the separation of monsters and humans; having lived alongside each other before, humans banished the monsters to their own realm, with horrible consequences coming to the monsters that cross into the human world. If it sounds a little like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, don’t be surprised – there’s a lot you’ll find similar between the two, right down to the final twist.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Michael Parsons, Movie Critics, Film CriticsIt’s a largely unoriginal mess which can somewhat be blamed upon its troubled production; its original star was arrested on drug charges, resulting in the majority of the film having to be reshot and special effects redone. More characters were added to up its star power, which makes Monster Hunt more scattershot than it should be. When the film strays from the central narrative of Tianyin, Xiaolan, and the baby, it stalls and drags amid offerings of stilted comedy.

With everything asked of director Raman Hui, you’d think the film would wind up a standout production; instead, it collapses into parody and silliness, complete with an ending dance number straight out of a bad Disney movie. Intended as a family movie, Monster Hunt goes out of its way to be tidy and pat, leaving the door open for a possible sequel. The film has its moments of laugh-out-loud slapstick, but it ends up being a fairly nondescript, forgettable kid’s movie with a forced spirit and little heart.

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Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on 4k or Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.


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